Tag Archives: steve wands

Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook #1


I remember “guidebooks” from back in the day. They’d be a lot of text that were more like roleplaying game supplements than comic books. And that’s what I expected with Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook #1. I was also really wrong about that as well. The Dark Nights: Death Metal tie-in is full of standalone stories and tales that shed more light on what has happened. It’s also a perfect guide for those that skipped “Year of the Villain” and want to catch up.

Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook #1 featured five stories from various creative teams and in between it has one-page guides/sketches that I was expected more of. As with all anthologies, the quality varies in story and art but this is the rare case where everything is at least good if not great. The story subjects, tones, and focus are all different delivering insight into the event.

The main chunk of the comic is made up of the “Fall of Earth”. The story goes into detail exactly what happened. While it skips some of the lead up it’s the perfect read for those who want to know what they missed. In goes into so much detail it spoils the first three issues of Dark Nights: Death Metal as well. It’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the event and when I got to the end, I felt like I had a good grasp as to what was going on and the why. None of it was Earth-shattering (pun intended) but I feel like I have a bit more of a grasp as to what’s going on now.

The other four stories focus on various heroes and villains and where they stand.

Harley Quinn gets a spotlight as she explores the irradiated wastelands and it answers some questions as to what has happened to some villains while raising questions as well. Aquaman is the most intriguing of the stories as it shows a former King subjugated and folded to protect his people. We learn more about Wonder Woman and her jail of villains. The story is the highlight of the comic delivering an emotional punch. Wrapping it up is a story featuring Batman, Jonah Hex, and the Joker Dragon. While the overall story is the weakest of the bunch it also has some key details that will impact the main story. There’s a reason Hex was chosen by Batman and something he must do if things go sideways.

The art is pretty solid all around. The styles vary a bit but none of it varies too much from each other. It’s unique but cohesive at the same time. All of it is good across the board and each has its moments that’ll leave you lingering. With a limited amount of pages to work with, the art is key to tell the story and bring emotion.

Dark Nights: Death Metal Guidebook #1 is a one-shot tie-in that really works. While it feels like it should have come out earlier in the event, it does a great job of acting as a starting point for those who missed the first three issues. It answers a lot of questions and also drops some key hints for the main story as well. It’s a spin-off that feels as vital as any main event issue.

Story: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Chip Zdarsky, Becky Cloonan, Vita Ayala, Christopher Priest
Art: Doug Mahnke, Khary Randolph, Becky Cloonan, Dan Panosian, Eduardo Risso
Ink: Jamie Mendoza
Color: David Baron, Emilio Lopez, Tamra Bonvillain, Luis Guerrero, Eduardo Risso
Lettering: Tom Napolitano, Dave Sharpe, Steve Wands, Ferran Delgado, Willie Schubert
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Preview: Harley Quinn Black + White + Red Chapter Four: “Who Diss?”

Harley Quinn Black + White + Red Chapter Four

Written by Tim Seeley
Pencils Juan Ferreyra
Inks Juan Ferreyra
Colored by Juan Ferreyra
Lettering by Steve Wands

“Who Diss?”
The Joker is a master of many things, but one of them is not the mic. When a mythical recording of the Joker’s disastrous rapping turns up as the grand prize in Gotham City’s most elite rap battle tournament, Harley Quinn enters the contest to win this most excellent way to humiliate her awful ex. But who are Gotham’s fiercest rappers? Can Harley Quinn hold her own? The answers will shock you.

Harley Quinn Black + White + Red Chapter Four

Review: Harley Quinn Black + White + Red Chapter Four: “Who Diss?”

Harley Quinn Black + White + Red Chapter Four

Fridays can be looked forward to for more than the weekend, it’s also new chapters of Harley Quinn Black + White + Red. The DC Digital First series has stood out in the program as each chapter so far has stood on its own and none are alike. Each creative team, or single creator, really brings their voice and talent delivering their take on the modern classic character. Harley Quinn Black + White + Red Chapter Four is no exception.

Harley Quinn Black + White + Red Chapter Four: “Who Diss?” has Harley entering a rap battle to get “the Joker Tape,” a mythical cassette featuring the Joker rapping. It’s a completely insane and out there take on the character and story and completely works. The chapter understands these are one and done stories and you can go out and just have fun with it. And the story is a lot of fun.

Writer Tim Seeley shows off his humor, and his rhymes, in a comic that is just too bizarre to describe. It’s a rap battle, that’s it, there’s not much more to it. And with that simple premise, Seeley makes sure to focus on the rhyme and the lyrics delivering some sick verses and beats that cut. It works and works well in that comic you can just read and enjoy. It’s silly fun.

Seeley’s concept works primarily due to Juan Ferrerya‘s art and Steve Wands‘ lettering. The art is delivered in interesting panels and angles as the lyrics are dropped back and forth. It delivers “action” to a concept that doesn’t have a lot of it. But, there’s something to the flow as well. The angle of the panels and stances of the characters help emphasize the rhythmic nature of it all. The lettering does that as well with key words emphasized and an attempt to bring the musical aspect of it all to the page. This is a story that really relies on the art to really deliver “the flow.”

Harley Quinn Black + White + Red Chapter Four is a crazy chapter that just works. It’s a goofy concept that is one you can pick up and just enjoy. There’s a cuteness and humor to it all, especially seeing the embarrassment that Ivy feels being a part of it all. The team really delivers both in the lyrics, and some subtle jokes, as well as art that delivers the “battle” aspect of the rap. Another excellent chapter showing off how much you can do with Harley Quinn and also when you let your creators have fun.

Story: Tim Seeley Art: Juan Ferrerya Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Purchase: comiXology

Get a First Look at DC Cybernetic Summer!

DC Comics wants you to get into a summer mood with a look at some pages from their upcoming DC Cybernetic Summer! Revealed is the Table of Contents for the anthology (on sale July 28), along with a few story pages from “Summer Lovin’” and “The Speedster Games” plus a few pages of art from “Out There” to give you an idea of what to expect from this oversized issue!

  • Superboy, starring the Legion of Super-Heroes, in “Summer Lovin’” by Liz Erickson, Nik Virella, Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Ferran Delgado
  • Mercury Flash in “The Speedster Games” by Joshua Williamson, David Lafuente, Luis Guerrero, and Steve Wands
  • Midnighter, Apollo, Monsieur Mallah and The Brain in “Out There” by Steve Orlando, Paul Pelletier, Norm Rapmund, Adriano Lucas, and Rob Leigh
DC Cybernetic Summer

Review: Birds of Prey #1

Birds of Prey #1

With the Birds of Prey having a bit of a moment with a cult love of the recent movie release, you’d think DC Comics would be focused on capturing that wave with a comic that’s accessible, new reader-friendly, and most importantly. Instead, we get Birds of Prey #1, a one-shot comic that’s a part of the “adult” DC Black Label line of comics. It’s also a mess.

Written by Brian Azzarello, the story follows a Mexican drug cartel and their soldiers, the Esposas De La Muerta, as they make a move on Gotham’s drug trade. What follows is a story that is steeped in stereotypes, many bad, and action movie cliches. The drug mentioned is fentanyl, which is the first issue of the comic and highlighting the unfortunate choices from there. While “Mexican drug cartels” might be the “enemy” the current President points to, fentanyl is mainly flowing from China. So, for those who know these things, that detail takes me out of the story. It makes the “bad guys” presented feel even more cliche and not needed.

From there, it’s just bad plotlines like drug overdoses, calls to missed connections just before getting killed, crooked cops (this part doesn’t even make sense), and shoot outs that defy all logic. It’s a poorly paced, badly plotted comic that has so many issues… well, lets try to find something positive.

Azzarello does deliver some nice banter. The interaction between Huntress, Harley Quinn, and Black Canary is fun with some solid banter and dialogue. The lettering by Steve Wands really pays off here. There are also some fun “action film” moments that are enhanced by Emanuela Lupacchino‘s art but so much is steeped in bad cliche and stereotype.

Lupacchino’s art absolutely has its moments but there’s just comically bad moments as well. It all comes together for a rather blah visual experience. The design for the Esposas De La Muerta take from the Dia De Los Muertos. Again the gives us nothing new or interesting, just Mexican visual stereotypes. That extends to speech patterns in Azzarello’s writing.

Birds of Prey #1 doesn’t take flight and instead plays off like an 80s B-movie mixed with really outdated views of Mexicans and just incorrect real world information. It’s hard to overlook the bad here. Take out the Birds of Prey, and you have a bad crime story that’s forgettable in every way. DC had an opportunity to deliver a comic that’d entice movie audiences to discover more but this comic’s end result might be the opposite.

Story: Brian Azzarello Art: Emanuela Lupacchino
Ink: Ray McCarthy Color: Trish Mulvihill, John Kalisz Letterer: Steve Wands
Story: 6.0 Art: 6.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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The Frights Continue in The Low, Low Woods #3!

The Low, Low Woods #3

Written by Carmen Maria Machado
Art by Dani
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Lettering by Steve Wands
Cover by Sam Wolfe Connelly
Variant cover by Jenny Frison
In shops February 19, 2020
Final orders due: January 27, 2020
SRP: $3.99

Writer Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other PartiesIn the Dream House) and artist Dani increase the suspense and the horror in issue #3 of The Low, Low Woods, from DC’s Hill House Comics!

Women with antlers like deer. Men in the woods with no skin. Coal mines, eternally burning underground. Just another day in the town of Shudder-To-Think, PA.

El and Octavia find themselves on two separate paths. One leads to somewhere deep within the Earth, and the other leads to a small green trailer on the edge of town. There, the people of Shudder-to-Think, PA say, lives a witch. For a price, she can change you—and even make you forget that which you no longer wish to remember. But what is the price of remembering that which you have lost?

Plus: Chapter Nine of the murderous werewolves at sea shanty, Sea Dogs, by Joe Hill and Dan McDaid!

The Low, Low Woods #3

Review: Batman Tales: Once Upon a Crime

Enjoy some fairytales with a DC Comics and Batman spin in this graphic novel for middle grade readers. Along with entertaining new versions of classic stories, the art is jaw dropping beautiful.

Story: Derek Fridolfs
Art: Dustin Nguyen
Letterer: Steve Wands

Get your copy in comic shops now and in bookstores on February 11! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Zeus Comics

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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Preview: Strange Skies over East Berlin #4

Strange Skies over East Berlin #4

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Jeff Loveness
Artist: Lisandro Estherren
Colorist: Patricio Delpeche
Letterer: Steve Wands
Cover Artist: Evan Cagle
Price: $3.99

Herring has been running and spying for so long, it’s hard to tell the allies from the enemies. As the alien monster closes in on Herring, the mental attack forces him to come to terms with his past—and the truth about the government he works for.

Strange Skies over East Berlin #4

Review: Sentient


As powerful a behemoth the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, it cannot be understated how much it has changed the way we look at heroes. The mere reverberations that Avengers: Endgame has had on our collective consciousness is both heartbreaking and eye-opening. The movie showed the world that heroes may be superpowered but mortal. The movie killed three of the most impactful entities of the MCU to that point, leaving audiences in a gasp and many in tears.

This was not the first time the MCU had fans in tears and it probably won’t be the last. It’s the first time I remember seeing a heartfelt story onscreen was Next Avengers: Heroes Of Tomorrow.  The movie centers around the children of the Avengers in a dystopian future. It’s a world where Ultron has killed all their parents. The movie asks a very important question, “Have you prepared your children for a life without you?” Jeff Lemire and Gabriel Walta’s thought-provoking Sentient is a similar premise to that animated movie and explores that very question.

We’re taken to the USS Montgomery a ship that houses a crew and their family along with artificial intelligence, Valeria, that watches over them. Separatists dissent on the Earth colony has the Space Navy and the Montgomery sees betrayal among its own. Post tragedy, the story shifts to one of survival as the surviving children of the Montgomery must learn to function in a ship without their parents and adapt to their new situation. It’s a story of survival in the physical and emotional sense.

Sentient is a truly original science fiction story that borrows traces of Lord of the Flies and Bicentennial Man infused with the human journey to beat insurmountable odds. The story by Lemire is heartfelt, harrowing, and redemptive. The art by Walta, Wands, Fletcher, and Powell is superb. Altogether, a story that shows the answer to the question, that if you can ever prepare your children for the unthinkable and to trust that you that your nurture leads to their better natures.

Story: Jeff Lemire
Art: Gabriel Walta, Steve Wands, Jared K Fletcher, and Jeff Powell
Story: 10 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Strange Skies Over East Berlin #4 Gets a Variant Cover by Matías Bergara

BOOM! Studios has revealed a new variant cover art by Eisner Award-nominated artist Matías Bergara for Strange Skies Over East Berlin #4, the newest issue of an all-new original series from Jeff Loveness, artist Lisandro Estherren, colorist Patricio Delpeche, and letterer Steve Wands, a chilling and intense thriller about an American spy who encounters a terrifying inhuman threat at the heart of the Cold War.

Herring has been running and spying for so long, it’s hard to tell his allies from his enemies. As the alien monster closes in on Herring, the mental attack forces him to come to terms with his past—and the truth about the government he works for.  

Strange Skies Over East Berlin #4 also features main cover art by illustrator Evan Cagle. The comic comes to shelves on January 8, 2020.

Strange Skies Over East Berlin #4  Matías Bergara Variant Cover
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